Nouri al-Maliki

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Nouri Kamel Mohammed Hassan al-Maliki (Arabic: نوري كامل المالكي, transliterated Nūrī Kāmil al-Mālikī; born c. 1950), also known as Jawad al-Maliki, is the Prime Minister of Iraq. He is a Shi'a Muslim, and is the deputy leader of the Islamic Dawa Party. Al-Maliki and his government succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government. His 37-member Cabinet was approved by the National Assembly and sworn in on May 20, 2006.

Al-Maliki's constitutional mandate will last until 2010. On April 26, 2006, al-Maliki's office announced that he would thenceforth use the first name Nouri instead of his pseudonym Jawad.[1]


Early life

Nouri Kamel al-Maliki was born in Abu Gharaq, a southern Iraqi town lying between Karbala and Al Hillah, in 1950. He attended school in Al Hindiyah (Hindiya). Al-Maliki received a bachelor's degree at Usul al-Din College in Baghdad, and a master's degree in Arabic literature from Baghdad University.[2] Al-Maliki lived for a time in Al Hillah, where he worked in the education department. He joined the Islamic Dawa Party in the late 1960s while studying at university.

Al-Maliki's grandfather, Muhammad Hasan Abi al-Mahasin, was a poet and cleric who served as Iraq's Minister of Education under King Faisal I.[3]

Exile and return to Iraq

In 1980, the Saddam Hussein government sentenced al-Maliki to death for his activism in the Dawa party and thereafter, he lived in exile, first in Iran[4] and later in Syria. In Syria, he headed the party's Jihad Office, a branch responsible for directing activists and guerrillas fighting Saddam Hussein's regime from outside of Iraq. He was elected chairman of the Joint Action Committee, a Damascus-based opposition coalition that led to the founding of the Iraqi National Congress, a United States-backed body of opposition to the Saddam Hussein regime which the Dawa Party participated in between 1992 and 1995. Some foreign diplomats who were responsible for maintaining links with the Iraqi opposition in Syria before the war, have maintained that al-Maliki was never more than a minor figure in the period before 2003. While in exile, al-Maliki adopted the pseudonym "Jawad", which he used until after his return to Iraq.

Returning home after Saddam's fall, he became the deputy leader of the De-Baathification Commission of the Iraqi Interim Government, formed to purge former Baath Party officials from the military and government. Many Sunni Arabs deeply resented the commission, viewing it as part of a Shi'a conspiracy to take power in Iraq, even though the Baath Party officials affected came from both the Shi'a and Sunni communities.

Al-Maliki was elected to the transitional National Assembly in January 2005. He was considered a tough negotiator in drawn-out deliberations over the new constitution, and was the senior Shi'ite member of the committee that drafted the new constitution that was passed in October 2005 over Sunni Arab objections. He resisted U.S. efforts to put more Sunnis on the drafting committee, as well as Sunni efforts to water down provisions giving wide autonomy to Shi'a and Kurdish regions in the north and south.

Prime Minister nomination

In the December 2005 parliamentary elections, the United Iraqi Alliance won the plurality of seats, and nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be Iraq's first full-term post-war prime minister. However, al-Jafaari faced opposition from Sunni and Kurdish factions who were negotiating to be part of the new government. In April 2006, al-Jaafari was removed as the candidate, and on April 22, 2006, al-Maliki was named prime minister-designate by President Jalal Talabani.

United States Ambassador to Iraq at the time, Zalmay Khalilzad, has stated that "[Maliki's] reputation is as someone who is independent of Iran," and that "He sees himself as an Arab" and an Iraqi nationalist. Khalilzad also maintained that Iran "pressured everyone for Jaafari to stay." Maliki's nomination is seen as a victory for Khalilzad's negotiating efforts. Khalilzad praised Iraqi statesmen, saying "It showed that Sistani doesn't take Iranian direction. It showed that Abdul Aziz Hakim doesn't succumb to Iranian pressure. He stood up to Iran. It showed the same thing about the Kurdish leaders."[5] This interpretation reflects the position of the U.S. Government. On May 20, 2006, al-Maliki presented his Cabinet to Parliament, minus permanent ministers of Defense and of Interior. He announced that he would temporarily handle the Interior Ministry himself, and Salam al-Zobaie would temporarily act as Defense Minister. "We pray to God almighty to give us strength so we can meet the ambitious goals of our people who have suffered a lot," al-Maliki told the members of the assembly.[6]

Maliki has brought Sunnis into his national unity government.[7]

In Office

As Prime Minister, al-Maliki has vowed to crack down on militias which he calls "organized armed groups who are acting outside the state and outside the law." He had been criticized for taking too long to name permanent Interior and Defense ministers, which he did on June 8, 2006, [8] just as Maliki and the Americans announced the killing of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.[9][10]

Meanwhile, Maliki criticized coalition armed forces as reports of allegedly deliberate killings of Iraqi civilians (at Haditha and elsewhere) became known. He has been quoted as saying, "[t]his is a phenomenon that has become common among many of the multinational forces. No respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch. It's unacceptable." According to Ambassador Khalilzad, Maliki had been misquoted, but it was unclear in what way.[11]

On December 30, 2006, Maliki signed the death warrant of Saddam Hussein and declined a stay of execution, saying there would be “no review or delay” in the event. Citing the wishes of relatives of Hussein's victims, he said, “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him.”[12] Hussein's execution was carried out on December 30, 2006 (notably, the first day of the feast of Eid ul-Adha). Maliki's official videographer, Ali Al Massedy, filmed the execution, and immediately handed over the videotape to Maliki's office.[13]

Official visits

On June 13, 2006, President George W. Bush paid a visit to Baghdad to meet with Maliki and President of Iraq Jalal Talibani, as a token of support for the new government.[14] On June 25, al-Maliki presented a national reconciliation plan to the Iraqi parliament. The peace plan sets out to remove powerful militias from the streets, open a dialogue with rebels, and review the status of purged members of the once-ruling Ba'ath party. Some viewed this as a bold step towards rebuilding Iraq.[15]

By July 2006, when al-Maliki visited the United States, violence had continued and even escalated, leading many to conclude that the reconciliation plan was not working.

On July 26, 2006, al-Maliki addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.[16]. Several New York Democrats boycotted the speech after Al-Maliki condemned Israel's attack on Lebanon. Howard Dean, the DNC chairman, accused Al-Maliki of being an "anti-Semite" and said the United States shouldn't spend so much on Iraq and then hand it over to people like Maliki.[17]

On September 11, 2006, Al-Maliki made his first official visit to neighbouring Shi'a Iran, whose influence on Iraq is a matter of concern for Washington DC. He conspicuously chose Sunni Persian Gulf Arab states for his first foreign trip but his visit to Iran will likely upset Sunnis. He discussed with Iranian officials, including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the "principle of no interference in internal affairs" during his visit on September 11, 2006 and September 12, 2006, i.e. political and security issues. The announcement of his visit followed a dispute between the two countries in which Iranian border guards in the week from September 3, 2006 detained Iraqi guards after accusing them of crossing into Iran. Ibrahim Shaker, Iraqi defence ministry spokesman, told the Iraqi patrol, five soldiers, one officer and one translator, had simply been doing "their duty".[18]

Governmental prospects

The stability of Maliki’s government depends on a tenuous peace between Moqtada al-Sadr, who controls one of the largest voting blocs in parliament, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who leads the United Iraqi Alliance and the country’s largest Shi'a party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A generations-long feud between their families has carried over into a personal and political rivalry between the men, and their militias have periodically clashed.[19]

In October 2006, doubts grew concerning Maliki's willingness or ability to defeat Shi'a militias. Maliki criticized an American-led raid that targeted a militia leader because, he asserted, it had been conducted without his government's approval.[20]

On January 2, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Maliki in which he said that he hadn't wanted to become Prime Minister of Iraq and that he had only accepted the position out of a sense of duty. He also stated that he wished he could end his term before it expires in 2009.[21]

On January 13, 2007, Maliki selected Lieutenant General Abud Qanbar as the Iraqi commander for the capital of Baghdad, Iraq.[22]


On August 24, 2006, he banned television channels from broadcasting images of daily bloodshed in the country and warned of legal action against those violating the order. Major General Rashid Flayah, head of a national police division added "...We are building the country with Kalashnikovs and you should help in building it with the use of your pen".[23]


  • "I consider myself a friend of the U.S., but I'm not America's man in Iraq."[24]
  • "I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term. I didn't want to take this position. I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again."[25]


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